North East Lincolnshire
Labour Market Development
through Training

North East Lincolnshire is an area with a legacy of traditional fishing, port based and food processing industries. The importance of this towards education is upon aspirations or, rather, lack of them.
There has been a lack of incentive to do too well in formal education, in that from generation to generation the jobs available allowed mediocrity in education. Those that wanted to do well by and large had to set their sights on leaving the area: whilst the vocational route meant hometown jobs, the academic success university route meant moving away for many. Then came a period in the 1980s and 1990s of high unemployment which compounded the problem. Cyclical changes magnify social exclusion rooted in the structural economy.
The economic demand management that came to crisis point in the late 1970s has therefore been replaced by a supply side perspective. This means generating diversity in employment within an area, and training itself to be broader requiring new suppliers and knowledge-skills.
Shifts in the world economy towards South East Asia, India and China, and a change from mass consumption towards individual preference, have meant the movement from UK based mass production to higher value added skill based employment. It demands an end to second rate vocational training.
Therefore the supply side approach tackles social exclusion more directly in terms of involvement in economic activity and potential for development of the resident population.
This approach received attention in 2000 and launched Centres of Vocational Excellence Specialist Development Groups (CoVEs as SDGs) to raise vocational education to academic levels. FE colleges were the existing resource to move in this more precisely defined direction of skills employment. It must begin from the local economy as it is and yet seek to expand it. In terms of the people involved, it should stretch into adult education and lifelong learning, so that the population keeps being reskilled (beyond the 14-19 year old trainees). It means improvement on basic and key skills too so that these do not hold back putting into practice more vocational skills. The aim must be to continue into Higher Education levels.
CoVEs become established in specific areas. South of the Humber this means importing and exporting, energy, steel, foodstuffs and new areas like interactive media. There are general areas like construction, gas/ plumbing and catering. CoVEs need to market themselves to employers to develop the area specialities, and also share best practice rather than empire build (although the converse incentive is to gain institutional funding this way).
A CoVE must therefore be part of the local scene. This is done through the selection and monitoring processes in relationship with the Learning and Skills Council. It should work with other providers, build networks and seek to improve training all around, and base its activities on economic research: labour market research directly and wider economic activity.
So a competitive market is assisted by areas of planning and co-operation. This way the labour market itself can be developed and cease to be a blockage to high value adding industry.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful